On or before June 30, 2002, each school district in New York State shall adopt a comprehensive attendance policy. The purpose of the policy shall be to ensure the maintenance of an adequate record verifying the attendance of all children at instruction in accordance with Education Law Sections 3205 and 3210. It will also establish a mechanism by which the patterns of student absence can be examined to develop effective intervention strategies to improve school attendance.
The school district held a public hearing on June 3, 2002 that provided for the participation of school personnel, parents, students and any other interested parties.
The Board of Education will annually review the building level student attendance records and if such records show a decline in student attendance, the board shall revise the comprehensive students attendance policy and make any revisions to the plan deemed necessary to improve student attendance.
The Board of Education will promote necessary community awareness of its comprehensive attendance policy by:
1) providing a plain language summary of the policy to the persons in parental relation to the students at the beginning of each school year and taking such other steps as deemed necessary to promote the understanding of such policy by students and their parents or persons in parental relation,
2) providing each teacher with a copy of the policy and any amendments thereto as soon as practicable following initial adoption or amendment of the policy, and providing new teachers with a copy of the policy upon their employment, and
3) making copies of the policy available to any of the community on request.
I. Policy Objective
The objective of the Elba Central School policy shall be to improve upon the 2000-2001 attendance rate of 92.3%.
1) 2002-2003 improve student attendance by 1% - goal 93.3%.
2) 2003-2004 improve student attendance by 1% - goal 94.3%.
3) 2004-2005 improve student attendance by 1% - goal 95.3%.
II. Strategies to Accomplish Objective
1) The district attendance officer will, on a bimonthly basis, use the district NEWSLETTER to publicize attendance issues.
2) The principals will discuss attendance issues with students during orientation and other appropriate student meetings.
3) The principals will discuss attendance issues with parents at Open House meetings.
4) The principals will discuss attendance issues with parents during parent conferences as prescribed for intervention and in parental notifications.
5) The principals will use outside agency programs such as S.T.A.R. and PINS to help correct attendance problems caused by unexcused absences and lateness.
6) The principals will use school prescribed consequences to deal with attendance problems caused by unexcused absences and lateness.
7) Awards and recognition will be used as incentives to help improve student attendance.
8) Teachers will convey attendance information to parents via telephone communication, student report cards and interim progress reports.
9) Warning notices will be sent to high school parents when students are absent 50% and again at 75% of the allowable limit in a class, and when they have lost credit in a class.
10) Teachers will reinforce the concept that attendance and success in school are directly related.
11) The Board of Education and community will provide the resources to pilot incentives for improved student attendance.
III. Types of Absences
Education Law: The compulsory attendance law requires that all children in New York State between the ages of 6 and 16, in proper mental and physical condition, shall receive full time instruction every day that school is in regular session. The length of the Elba Central School day is as follows:
Grades K-12 7:45 a.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Students may be legally absent from attendance for only the following reasons:
1) personal illness
2) illness or death in the family
3) authorized visits to college
4) course related job interviews, cooperative work programs and approved career exploration.
5) military obligations
6) medical appointments
7) religious observances
8) required court appearances
9) weather conditions or impassable roads that prevent travel
10) reasons approved by the NYS Commissioner of Education
These legal excused absences do require proper notification and/or verification. The absences, however, must still be counted as absences for the purposes of this policy. All work must be made-up and used for grading purposes at full value.
All other absences are illegal. These absences will also be counted for the purposes of this policy. If the absence is illegal, the teacher may deny the opportunity for the student to do make-up work. The teacher also has the right to assign alternative make-up work. Students who are illegally absent from school are also subject to disciplinary consequences outlined in the Student Discipline Code.
An excused absence shall be one that is legal and in which the student provides the health office a written note, signed by the person in parental relationship, that explains the reason for their absence when they return to class following an absence. Prior to an early dismissal, students are required to present to the health office a note, signed by the person in parental relationship, explaining the reason for release from class. In order for the early dismissal to be excused, it must be legal.
An unexcused absence shall be one that is illegal and/or in which the student has failed to provide the health office with a written note, signed by the person in parental relationship, that explains the reason for their absence when they return to class following an absence. An early dismissal would be unexcused if the reason for the dismissal is illegal and/or the student fails to present to the health office a note, signed by the person in parental relationship, prior to the early dismissal explaining the reason for release from class. Examples are vacations, babysitting, hunting, shopping, visiting relatives and friends and other such absences of a capricious or arbitrary nature. Any student with an unexcused absence from school is ineligible to participate in any after school curricular or extra-curricular activity, including rehearsals, practices and athletic events the day of the absence.
Excused lateness to school shall be one that the reason is legal and in which the student provides the health office a written note, signed by the person in parental relationship, that explains the reason for their lateness when they arrive at school. Students must check in in the health office before going to class.
Excused lateness to class shall be one where the student provides a written hall pass signed by the teacher or staff member causing the lateness to the next class. The student will have three minutes from the time written on the pass to arrive in class.
Unexcused lateness to school is when the reason for being late is illegal or when the student fails to provide the health office a written note, signed by the person in parental relationship, that explains the reason for their lateness when they arrive at school. Students must check in in the health office before going to class. Examples of unexcused lateness are: parent didn't get you up on time, car broke down, alarm clock didn't go off and other such lateness of a capricious or arbitrary nature.
Unexcused lateness to class is when a secondary student cannot or does not provide a written hall pass signed by a teacher or staff member. The student is then listed for having one late pass; three late passes causes a secondary student to be assigned to detention. Any secondary student more than ten minutes late to class is assigned a cut class.
IV. Coding System for Student Absence , Lateness and Early Dismissal
A student absence shall be recorded as ____ in the official attendance document for the school district. A student lateness to school shall be recorded as ____ in the official attendance document for the school district. A student early dismissal shall be recorded as ____ in the official attendance document for the school district.
V. Minimum Attendance for a High School Student to Receive Course Credit
High school students must attend a minimum of 85% of each of their scheduled classes or credit with be withheld. Students in full year courses will be limited to 28 class absences. Students in courses that met every other day all year are limited to 14 for the course, as are half-year courses.
The principal will have discretionary authority to modify the parameters of the policy when extraordinary circumstances exist. For example, a student who successfully completes a course of approved alternative instruction, usually as a result of extended absence caused by illness, injury or hospitalization, is eligible to receive credit. In this case, the alternative instruction, usually under the supervision of a tutor provided by the school for an extended medical condition, fulfills the requirement for class attendance. If an extended or chronic medical condition exists, the parent or guardian must contact the principal at the time such a condition is discovered to make arrangements for alternative instruction.
The person in parental relationship to the student will be notified in writing when a student has been absent 50% and again at 75% of the allowable limit in a class when they have lost credit in a class. Such notices will include specific intervention strategies to be employed to avoid the denial of credit.
VI. Incentives and Sanctions to Improve Attendance
Incentives to Encourage better Student Attendance
The following incentives will be used to encourage improved student attendance:
1) Annual Attendance Award Certificates - 96% (miss 9 or fewer days)
2) Annual 100% Attendance BOCES Program Awards
3) Verbal praise via the public address system each marking period for 100% attendance
4) Attendance Honor List - prepared and posted every 10 weeks - 100% attendance
Disciplinary Sanctions to Discourage Unexcused Student Attendance
The following consequences will be used to discourage poor attendance:
1) Unexcused lateness to school results in detention each occurrence after the third time.
2) Unexcused lateness to class results in detention every third occurrence.
3) Unexcused lateness to class over ten minutes into the class will result in detention.
4) Missing or leaving school without permission will result in one detention for each period missed on a first offense; in-school suspension on a second offense; suspension for insubordination on a third offense and a hearing will be held.
5) Skipping detention will result in a detention make-up on a first offence; consequences increase on any subsequent cuts.
6) Lateness to class can be disruptive and may result in assigned detention.
7) High school students not achieving 85% attendance will lose credit in the class.
8) Student drivers may lose permission to park on school grounds if they are excessively late to school.
9) Students may be placed on ineligibility for poor attendance.
10) High school students not attaining credit in required courses will either take them in summer school or repeat them.
VII. Parental Notification
Persons in the parental relationship to an elementary student will be notified by the guidance counselor or principal should a student accrue fourteen absences and a conference will be scheduled to discuss attendance issues.
Persons in the parental relationship to a secondary student will be notified by the guidance counselor or principal should a student accrue half the allowable absences for a class (7 for a half credit class and 14 for a one credit class). A second notification will be made should a secondary student accrue three-fourths of the allowable absences for a class (10 for a half credit class and 21 for a one credit class) and must attend a parent/principal conference. The notification will indicate specific intervention strategies to be used to avoid the loss of credit.
Students and parents who have questions about attendance status should contact the principal. Should a student exceed the 15% absentee rate for a course, parents will receive written notification of denial of credit. A student exceeding the absence limit will be required to remain enrolled in the course on a "not for credit" basis and complete all assigned work. The student will not take exams or have assignments graded in any way. A student who fails to meet the minimum attendance requirements may not sit for a Regents or other State examination given for the course. Students must remain in the "not for credit" course in order to qualify for attendance at summer school.
VIII. Process to Develop Specific Intervention Strategies
When a parental notification form is required for secondary students, the teacher and guidance counselor will confer and determine appropriate specific intervention strategies that may be employed to avoid the loss of credit in a class. Prior to that conference, the teacher will have discussed the attendance problem with the student.
Possible Intervention Strategies to Improve Student Attendance
The following strategies will be used to encourage improved student attendance:
1) student should seek medical help for stated reasons for absences
2) student should ride the bus to school
3) student should reduce other activities that interfere with school attendance
4) student could be referred to S.T.A.R. (call for information about the program)
5) students could be referred to P.I. N.S. (call for information about the program)
6) secondary student may have driving privileges suspended
7) student should be telephoned at home by parent from work
8) student should be brought to school by the parent
9) student should have an "attendance contract"
10) student should be referred to outside agency for assistance: (agency named)
11) student should be referred to school support: (support names)
12) student should have a home-based reward/consequence system
13) student should have a "school buddy"
14) secondary student should seek academic intervention in the learning center
15) student should explore program alternatives to regular school attendance.
IX. District Attendance Records
The person responsible for the review of student attendance records will be the person appointed by the Board of Education as attendance officer of the district.